Creating an addictive jingle has long been one of the most prized skills in advertising. It's especially impressive when you have a memorable jingle that doesn't even promote a real product. Below, we've collected our 15 favorite songs written for fictional products and brands. First, you should prepare yourself by enjoying the relative silence in your mind. Because this is about to become your brain's internal playlist, set on repeat. Forever. —Photo above by greggoconnell on Flickr.
Click to view. I'd guess 90 percent of South Park fans don't listen to NPR's "All Things Considered." But the other 10 percent probably sing this song every afternoon.
Click to view. The third Halloween film is notorious for leaving out slasher Michael Myers altogether, but also for its heavy use of this unnerving jingle. The song was meant to "activate" on Halloween night, killing anyone who was watching the commercial and wearing a Silver Shamrock mask. But watching it without a mask is plenty dangerous, too.
"Fruity Oaty Bar"
Click to view. Lots of jingles get in your head. This one can get so deep in your head, it sends you into a steely-eyed, ass-kicking rampage across the neighborhood bar. Or at least, that's what it did to River Tam in the sci-fi flick Serenity. Results may vary.
Toy Story 3
Click to view. Lots-o-Huggin' Bear may have become a duplicitous tyrant in his twilight years, but he sure had a cute commercial back in the early '80s. Actually, "Lots-o" never really existed, but the marketing team behind Toy Story 3 did a good job of mocking up this fake retro spot for the new character.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
"Wild Rebels Cereal"
Click to view. I would try any cereal whose jingle promised that it tasted like shooting off a gun or being hit in the head with a surfboard of flavor. Throw in prizes like "a chunk of hose filled with lead shot," and I'd be willing to buy the family pack at Sam's.
Click to view. There's always one danger to creating a fake ad within a real ad: What if people like the fake one better? Denny's got the best of both worlds with its 2009 Super Bowl spot, which brought in 2 million customers in one day, and more important, introduced the lovable, low-budget Nannerpus. The jaunty banana's jingle soon took off as a YouTube sensation.
The Last Boy Scout
"Friday Night Football"
Click to view. Tony Scott's gritty 1991 action movie begins with a football player committing murder-suicide during a sprint to the end zone. That was memorable. But even more so was the song that kicked in for the opening credits. "Friday Night's a Great Night for Football" is an NFL anthem that actually surpasses most real NFL anthems. The singer is Bill Medley, best known as the male half of the Dirty Dancing duet "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." Oh, and being one of the Righteous Brothers.
A Prairie Home Companion
Click to view. Personally, I'd rather listen to alley cats fight-humping than sit through "A Prairie Home Companion" on NPR. But there's no denying the longevity of Garrison Keillor's ditty for the folksy-yet-fictional Powdermilk Biscuits. The video above is actually a live version of the jingle mixed with a medley of campfire songs, which is the best YouTube has to offer.
Click to view. Hank Williams Jr. provides the vocals in The Simpsons' parody ad for an SUV "with four-wheel drive, smells like steak and seats 35." Obviously that was an easy sell for Homer in the 1998 episode "The Last Temptation of Krust," though it wasn't long before Marge also discovered the joy of driving around in a "squirrel-squashin', deer-smackin' drivin' machine."
Click to view. A memorable sitcom moment, yes, but does it count as a fake jingle? You bet it does. In a 1997 episode, Phoebe's signature song about feline digestive issues was used in a kitty-litter commercial after being sold by her former singing partner.
"Rockenschpeel Fine Foods"
Click to view. In this classic of the fake-jingle genre, Wilma encourages wives to fatten up their spouses: "Make your hobby hubby/Keep your hubby happy/When he's a little chubby/He's the happy pappy!" I just found out that my brother-in-law sings this to my sister rather often, presumably when he wants her to cook him something in Brontosaurus butter.
Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers
"Coo Coo Cola"
Click to view. I hadn't watched this clip since it first aired in 1989, and I still remembered almost every word. The episode's plot revolved around a mouse cult that worshiped a cola jingle. And who could blame them? It's fantastic. Religions have been founded on less.
Coming to America
Click to view. Fictional brands often play a big role in movies, but the electrifying hair product Soul Glo practically deserves top billing in Coming to America. It is the source of the family fortune for Eddie Murphy's romantic rival, played unforgettably by Eriq La Salle's glistening hair. But most memorably, it's advertised with a rousing call to "let your sooooooul glowwww!" Though often thought to have been sung by Murphy himself, it seems the jingle was actually recorded by Dutch R&B singer Christopher Max.
The Ren & Stimpy Show
Click to view. The jingle for "Log" is one hell of an accomplishment. It took what is perhaps the best-known toy tune of all time—the 1960s Slinky jingle—and flat-out eclipsed it. I'd wager that more Americans alive today know the words to "Log" than to the original Slinky song. Why? Because it's better than bad. It's good.
Click to view. Homer's local TV spot takes top honors through enduring efficiency alone. In just 12 words and a mere seven seconds, he created a true classic of jingle fakery—one that his nemesis, the Plow King, couldn't even top with the slanderous assistance of Linda Rondstadt.
So, what did we miss? Share your favorite fake jingles in the comments below. Also, a quick thanks to my friends Meghan, Atlee, Wade, Jay and (most especially) my AdFreak colleague and fictional-brands expert Rebecca Cullers for their help in compiling this list.